Jamaican Gov't had no intention to bid for T20 World Cup games, says JCA VP
In this file photo, Shai Hope (right) of West Indies drives as wicketkeeper MS Dhoni of India looks on during a One-Day International match at Sabina Park.Photo: Observer file

Up to late Monday there was no update from the Government, but all indications are that Jamaica will not host games at the International Cricket Council (ICC) Twenty20 (T20) World Cup set for the Caribbean and the United States next year.

Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) Vice-President Dr Donovan Bennett confirmed that the country was not among the host venues and said he believes the Government had no intention to bid despite making statements to the contrary last week.

"Jamaica is not one of them [the venues] because no bid was received from Jamaica," he told the Jamaica Observer when contacted Monday afternoon.

"It's quite obvious that the Government had no intention of bidding because this thing has been going on for about 10 or 12 weeks. [There has been] nothing at all, no response from the Government," Bennett said.

GRAVE...the ICC is due to announce venues this week (Photo: AFP)

Cricket West Indies (CWI) Chief Executive Officer Johnny Grave told the Observer via text message on Monday that there was still "no bid from Jamaica". He said the ICC is due to announce the venues "this week".

Bennett, a medical doctor and a CWI board director, lamented the Government's failure to bid.

"These bids should have been made at the end of June and because no bid came from Jamaica the JCA asked for an extension. An extension was given to the end of July. Then a further extension was requested… until the end of August," he said, underlining the CWI's efforts.

"The CWI has really and truly bent backwards because there was really an interest at CWI for Jamaica to be a participant. The president [Dr Kishore Shallow] and directors of CWI did not see a World Cup taking place in the Caribbean without Jamaica's involvement — being the largest [cricket-playing] territory from the point of view of economy and population," Bennett said.

BENNETT... the CWI has really and truly bent backwards because there was really an interest at CWI for Jamaica to be a participant (Photo: Observer file)

He added: "We're very disappointed, and the question is where does cricket go in Jamaica now?"

Late Monday evening the Observer tried, without success, to get an update from Minister of Sport Olivia Grange with a number of calls to her phone number going unanswered.

Subsequently, one of those calls was put through to the ministry's Director of Public Relations and Corporate Communications Oliver Watt, who said Grange had been in a Cabinet meeting for much of the day and was unavailable at the time.

After the Observer broke news last week that the Jamaican Government did not submit to stage matches, Grange issued a statement that they were "considering a bid".

The statement added that the Government "sees the benefit in hosting T20 World Cup games but was matching that against the tremendous cost involved". Grange said the total estimated cost to bid and host games was over $450 million.

The JCA has distanced itself from the bidding fiasco, noting that months ago it had sent recommendation for the Government to bid for Sabina Park to host a group match and a semi-final fixture at the T20 World Cup.

It is estimated that the cost to upgrade Sabina Park and other venues to be used for training purposes, in addition to expenses associated with the bid would have amounted to over US$2 million.

Since 2021 when CWI and USA Cricket were named co-hosts of the 2024 T20 tournament there had been a high level of anticipation across the region.

Jamaica, a premier tourist destination with world-renowned hotel infrastructure, was seen as a highly viable host. Its geographic location in the northern Caribbean offers favourable proximity to the United States, and Sabina Park is one of the region's most historic sporting venues.

And as global economies emerged from the financial strains of the COVID-19 pandemic, the message from the Jamaican Government had been that the country has enjoyed remarkable recovery.

That often-repeated position had led some cricket stakeholders in Jamaica to believe the Government was primed to bid for hosting 2024 T20 World Cup matches with hopes of achieving returns on investment.

The Jamaican Government also recently failed to bid to host games against visiting India from July to August, and versus England who are scheduled for a white-ball tour in December.

Last week, Dr Akshai Mansingh, the dean of the Faculty of Sport at The University of the West Indies, said that by not bidding as a host venue, the Jamaican Government shunned opportunities to boost the economy, upgrade infrastructure and further showcase the country as a tourist destination.

"We've turned our back to all of that, either because we don't have the foresight for planning, or we don't see this as a priority, or it's the anti-cricket direction we seem to be taking in Jamaica, whereby Jamaican cricket is being ignored, by and large," he had told the Observer.

Sanjay Myers

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